5 surprising self-care habits

For all the relatable #selfcare content on Twitter and Instagram, I can’t help but think that self-care, IRL, often consists of so much more. Sure, a Boomerang loop of your well-manicured fingers dropping a Lush bath bomb into the tub is good for IG engagement, and, OK, maybe it forces you to spend some time alone, but that’s not the only option, is it?

I’ve found that mundane errands (which, admittedly, don’t photograph well) can do just as much for my mental health, if not more, than a $12 bubble bath or face mask ever could. I know, I know — you may be wondering why on earth anyone would suggest running errands or doing chores as self-care. Well, because running errands and doing chores helps me feel like my life is put together, that’s why. It tells the world, “Nothing to see here, folks. I’ve got this all under control.”

Running errands and doing chores helps me feel like my life is put together.

Sometimes, coming home to a tidy apartment at the end of a long day or waking up to a vase of fresh flowers by your bedside is all it takes to put you in a better mood. It doesn’t solve all of your problems — in fact, it may not even solve a single problem at all — but, if you think about it, neither does a bubble bath.

When it comes to self-care, one size doesn’t fit all. What works for one person might do very little for another. And what looks cute on Instagram — cough, bath bombs, cough — might cost you a fortune and all your mental energy to choose the right filter for. So consider what little tasks make you the most happy once you’ve checked them off your list.

The goal of self-care, really, is to do something that helps you feel better about yourself and your life, even if it’s only temporary. Next time you’re in the mood for some #selfcare, try one of these underrated home remedies.

1. Write a to-do list ahead of the new week

Mental clutter can be debilitating. You end up panicking about all the things you have to do without actually accomplishing any of them. And now that you’ve gotten yourself all worked up, it’s almost impossible to tackle anything else. Before the Sunday scaries kick in, take a few minutes to sit quietly and write a to-do list for the upcoming week. You can do this in a journal if writing by hand is therapeutic for you, or you can type something up quickly in the Notes app on your phone. This list should be practical and reasonable — don’t list tasks you know you won’t be able to accomplish in a week. Similarly, don’t dump long-term life goals in here, either. It won’t work, and truthfully, it will only exacerbate your frustration. A short, simple, feasible list will be infinitely more beneficial, both for your brain and for everything you need to get done.

2. Make your bed

I’m guilty of not getting to this every day because — come on, who isn’t? When I do manage to check this off my to-do list before jumping back into bed at night, I’m so grateful that I did. Ideally, I like to get this done as soon as I wake up because it sets a productive tone for the rest of my day. But, on days when my morning routine is far less predictable, it still helps to make my bed before I get back in it. There’s something deeply comforting about sinking into just-fluffed pillows that seems to right all the day’s wrongs.

3. Go grocery shopping instead of eating out

I don’t think I have a single friend for whom grocery shopping is a regular undertaking. With food delivery services like Seamless, Uber Eats, and Postmates, all offering to bring you whatever your heart — I mean, your tummy — desires, there’s no real reason to go grocery shopping on your own. In fact, even if you do decide you want to cook, millennial convenience is so real that you can even have your groceries delivered, which I’ve done on occasion. But whether you make the trek to Trader Joe’s yourself or you use a grocery delivery service, it’s not a bad idea to stock your fridge with the essentials every two weeks. The fact is that it’s nice to wake up in the morning and not have to wonder where you should grab breakfast, or better yet, not have to join the super long bagel line a few blocks away from your apartment. It’ll save you money on takeout in the long run, too.

4. Clear your email inbox

There is no greater feeling than getting rid of the astronomical number floating above your email inbox icon on your phone’s home screen. This is utopia — and you can recreate it for yourself once a week by clearing your inbox. Odds are your phone is abuzz all day with new notifications, which means you’ve mastered the art of knowing, with one quick glance, if something is important or not. Do the same with the emails in your inbox. Swipe left on those marketing emails about sales at stores you’re fairly certain you’ve never heard of, and flag the emails worth paying attention to for when you’re ready to dig in.

5. Do your laundry

Read the tags. Sort your delicates. Count your change if you need to. Just get it done. Fresh laundry, and especially fresh linen, can feel like a fresh start on life (or, at least, a fresh start to the week). If you can bring your favorite white tee back to life with a quick spin in the wash cycle, you can literally brighten your day just by washing your dirty clothes.

This article was originally posted on Shondaland.com.